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Appetite for a new way of weight loss

"I read somewhere that some people have certain genes that encourage fat storage," Maggie sighed dramatically. You could tell that she felt similarly afflicted.

"What! Do these jeans expand the fatter you get?" asked Patsy.

"Not jeans you idiot. GENES. G-E-N-E-S!" Maggie snapped. She was as cranky as a constipated polecat because she had been out celebrating her wedding anniversary the night before, and had a hangover that could only be relieved by ordering a large Irish breakfast with extra pudding and a couple of rounds of toast. She was stuffing it into herself as if there was about to be a potato blight.

"There's nothing wrong with your genes. Your problem is that you feel that you have to eat everything on the plate, even when you are stuffed as full as a turkey on Christmas Day," said Patsy.


It's true. No matter what's on Maggie's plate, she feels she has to eat it. Gravy is mopped up with slices of bread. No pea is left an orphan and the fat from her lamb chops is swallowed whole. Sometimes her husband catches her looking at the leftovers in her dog's bowl wondering whether she should finish it off or not.

"I just hate waste," she sighed.

It may be more than that. Recent research has shown that some people have certain chemicals in their gut that react with their brain which tells them to stop eating once they've had enough. For others, like Maggie, it can be more difficult, and they just have to run their finger around their plate and lick it clean.

Profession Waljit Dhillo at Imperial College, London, says: "Humans evolved at times when food was scarce and we faced starvation all of the time. Those who survived were the ones that were able to eat most and could sustain themselves through periods of famine. They passed on the genes for that ability to future generations and it ensured our species survived famine."


However, a series of breakthroughs in the scientific world has raised hopes that it might be possible to interfere with this process and create drugs that will suppress our appetites and control weight.

"You will wake up hungry but because you've had an injection of a gut hormone you will only eat half of what you would otherwise consume," adds Professor Dhillo.

We watched Maggie as she reached over to Patsy's plate and grabbed the empty bun case from her cupcake. Methodically, she gnawed away at its inside lest any crumbs were still attached.

They are going to have to be able to produce a hell of a lot of gut hormone in order to suppress that appetite . . .